ISIS/ISIL conflict in Syria/Iraq (No OpEd, No Politics)


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suggest the Russian blogger does not know what a quagmire is.


Really?

...after what, two months since Putin announced it and first sent units down there?

Hogwash.

He needs to go back in his history book and look at the ten year effort in Afghanistan and give this one at least 2-3 years before he even mentions such a term. Mentioning after two months IMHO displays a complete ignorance on what a modern campaign like this takes to even really get going. And two months ain't even close.

Same is true for Obama.

I am fine with Russia using her air power, and supporting ground troops in really putting the hurt on ISIS.
Jeff hold it, in my post
https://www.sinodefenceforum.com/is...no-oped-no-policis.t6913/page-293#post-379155
Friday at 3:58 PM
interestingly, a Red Russian blogger (where I found it)
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pretty much concurs
Putin's Quagmire in Syria Proves Obama Prescient

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it was, obviously, Bloomberg who said "quagmire", in the article I quoted in said post.
I also thought that Russian would agree, with
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"a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of : a situation that is full of problems"
and this is what I still think, as now I'm seeing this perception increases in Russian Internet (plus I'm in daily contact with Russians, had Syria-related discussion in the pub just yesterday in the afternoon); you may dismiss all this, so I finish with the news right from
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about an INcrease of ISIL in Syria recently!
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So I'm sorry to disagree with you, Jeff, but I also think the intervention in Syria becomes Russian "quagmire".
 
very briefly updating (sorry about the imaginary line again :)
Saturday at 6:07 PM
it appears the most fierce fights have been taking place around/in Banis (top-left; "Banes" on "edmaps" and on the map below), the place being claimed by both sides at the same time according to several reports ... and it seems the Goverment Forces didn't take it more south than Abu Ruwayl (bottom-right, in yellow, above):
 
Last edited:

FORBIN

Lieutenant General
Registered Member
Russian Strikes in Syria: December 3-12, 2015

Russia and the Syrian regime faced significant setbacks in Syria this week as
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the towns of Maheen and Hawareen in the southeastern countryside of Homs on December 9. ISIS
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repelled attempts by regime forces to recapture these towns on December 10, despite a large concentration of Russian airstrikes in the area. The regime previously seized Maheen and Hawareen on November 23 as components of a larger offensive to retake Palmyra further east in Homs Province. The seizure of Palmyra would represent a significant victory for both Syrian President Basar al-Assad and Russia as Russia continues to present itself and the Assad regime as effective anti-ISIS actors in Syria. Following these setbacks, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
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ISIS’s influence in Syria is increasing and that the militant group controls around 70% of Syria.

Russian airstrikes in Syria, however, continue to be concentrated in rebel-held terrain in Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama Provinces, targeting positions across rebel front lines with the regime, ISIS, and Kurdish YPG forces. Russian airstrikes continued to target locations along the key rebel ground line of communication (GLOC) from northern Aleppo City to the Turkish border, coinciding with a recent ISIS offensive to sever the GLOC. Rebel forces, however, successfully slowed ISIS’s advance and
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the town of al-Hamzat in northern Aleppo from ISIS on December 11, despite the concentration of Russian strikes in the area. Russian airstrikes also
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rebel front lines near the Kurdish Afrin canton in northwestern Aleppo, a site of recent clashes between rebel and Kurdish YPG forces.
...

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Jeff Head

General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Jeff hold it, in my post
https://www.sinodefenceforum.com/is...no-oped-no-policis.t6913/page-293#post-379155
Friday at 3:58 PM

it was, obviously, Bloomberg who said "quagmire", in the article I quoted in said post.
I also thought that Russian would agree, with

"a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of : a situation that is full of problems"

and this is what I still think, as now I'm seeing this perception increases in Russian Internet (plus I'm in daily contact with Russians, had Syria-related discussion in the pub just yesterday in the afternoon); you may dismiss all this, so I finish with the news right from

So I'm sorry to disagree with you, Jeff, but I also think the intervention in Syria becomes Russian "quagmire".
You can pull the general Webster's definition all you want, Jura. it is a term that is classically, in non-military applications, rooted in a mud hole.

However a military Quagmire is typically associated with a drawn out campaign that is very expensive in men, material, and money, and that one is finding a hard to extracting one's self with.

If Bloomberg said it...then he's wordsmithing and displaying his own bias IMHO..

Fact is, IMHO and based on four decades of watching this stuff, and studying hundreds of years of military conflict, I'd stand by my statement.

Calling Russia's involvement in Syria a quagmire at this point is far, far too premature.
 

SampanViking

The Capitalist
Super Moderator
VIP Professional
I think too many people are reading to much into the incremental and positional changes along the various front lines. Some matter, some matter a lot less.

I suspect that there are two immediate objectives for the Russian led campaign (and that indeed it has ever been the case since before the Russian Intervention started)

1) Knock out the Western backed rebel groups, even enabling ISIS to expand and do some of the heavy lifting. From the Government and Russian perspective, an armed terrorist group is an armed terrorist group and so which one holds a particular piece of land is almost irrelevant.
More important is to knock out those that have overt friends abroad and just leave the ones that nobody says they like. You can then finish these at your leisure and nobody will be able to critise you for it.

2) Destroy the vast stockpiles of weapons, fuel and "none lethal aid" provided over the last four years. There is undoubtedly huge quantities of all such and removing these facilities, utilities and indeed resupply columns from abroad, is a more key concern than any collection of sheep farms in the middle of MAMBA country.

This I believe that this is the strategy currently engaged in and I suspect that it is both working and hurting and that the big rebel counter attacks we have seen are a direct consequence of this and an indication of growing weakness rather than strength.
We have seen this counter attacks, retaking recently lost territory on numerous fronts, and they all stall and are quickly reversed.
I think we can safely read into this that loyalist forces are quite happy to fall back in the face of such counter attacks, force the rebels to come out and move forward and become easy pickings for both heavy artillery and air attacks. This again seems in line with we are hearing about the Russian deployments and supply to the Government.

This cannot be a fast strategy, although it may accelerate with Russia deploying increasing amounts of Air Power as the facility to base it increases. This would inflict exponential damage on the rebels with, loss of territory, loss of weaponry, heavy fighter attrition and finally a collapse of morale.

Yesterday was being reported that the Government had recaptured the International Airport at Damascus. This is significant, I also note the Edmap a few days ago of North Aleppo, which showed the government had made a bridge to the isolated loyalist stronghold and the Kurdish enclave West of A'ziz. The bridge may not be under full government control, but it means that large rebel supply convoys will no longer be able to move through it and to the rebel heartlands West and South of Aleppo.
 

taxiya

Major
Registered Member
Some doctrines of PLA could be preferable in this conflict. Ignore the "dog" thing, it is a metaphor for enemy because in some part of the world dog is not a family member. :)

1 集中优势兵力 歼灭有生力量 不计一城一地之得失 Concentrate forces in superior quality and quantity at one point. Reducing enemy fighters being the first objective. Do not fixet on gaining a place. Apply this principle on all levels.

2 围点打援 Encircle a point to kill the rescuing troops.
Encircle the position that the enemy is deemed to rescue without taking it, kill the rescuing enemy in the open and on the move. If the enemy does not take the bait, increase the surrounding force until either they take the bait, or the position can be easily taken. After taken, eliminate all the enemy fighters. The government side has the advantage in the open, the air power and artillary.

3 关门打狗 Close the door to kill the “dog”.
Block the border to external supply routes of the enemy. If blocking is difficult due to shortage of troops, ambush and destroy enemy supplies on the way, take them to resupply the government forces if possible. Government forces should use guerrilla tactics.

4 痛打落水狗 Finish the “dog” in water.
Do not let go the enemy fighters unless you can be sure that you won’t face the same enemy somewhere else.
 

bajingan

Junior Member
Unfortunate and inhumane as it is but the thought of killing civilians has prevented the US coalition from achieving its goals. As such ISIS has learned to hide within the civilian population as soon as Aircraft are spotted inbound.

By bombing regardless of killing civilians the message is clear. You can't hide anywhere. It may also make the civilians rebel against ISIS. Knowing that the bombs are coming because of them.

Some would argue that civilian deaths will actually lead to more civilians deciding to join ISIS for revenge against those that bombed their loved ones.

That is probably true to some degree. But ISIS lacks an air force, and their anti aircraft defenses are limited. So those that decide to join them will find it a very unsafe occupation.

ISIS is beginning to understand a few realities about their new Northern Enemy.

1) Russia has completely different rules of engagement then the countries who have been fighting ISIS.

2) Russia follows its own plan. They are hitting the targets they choose. Not targets approved by some international coalition.

3) Russia has a state run media. ISIS will find it much harder to run a propaganda campaign there. Swaying the Russian populations opinion of the war will be much more difficult then the US population. The Kremlin sees to that!

4) Russia answers to nobody. Not NATO nor the UN. They will do whatever they need to do to achieve their goals.

5) Russia could care less about their reputation. They are not concerned with their Human Rights record, nor any international popularity contest.

6) Unlike the US, Russia has boots on the ground in Syria. Both the Syrian Army and Iran, limited as they are, they still better than the 50 odd US special forces currently on the ground

7) Syria is no Afghanistan. The US is not going to give ISIS air defense capabilities just to stop Evil Russia. And Russia is not going to put significant boots on the ground into the middle of what has become a Muslim civil war.

8) The Syrian government is not going to collapse at this point. They are actually growing stronger. While ISIS is beginning to suffer from a loss of Oil revenue, supplies and recruits.
 
Hard to tell whether this is a Saudi move to simply intervene under the guise of anti-terrorism or a more ambitious attempt to gain control over a wider swath of Sunni extremists and/or their supporters. Either way it likely means more tension and bloodshed with the Shiite camp rather than less.

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Saudi Arabia Forms Muslim Antiterror Coalition
The 34-member bloc will fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, deputy crown prince says, but sectarian tensions raise questions
By AHMED AL OMRAN in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and ASA FITCH in Dubai
Updated Dec. 15, 2015 4:21 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia’s plan to form a Muslim antiterrorism coalition has underlined a new muscular foreign policy aimed at confronting the extremist group Islamic State, even at the risk of wading deeper into the Middle East’s messiest conflicts and fanning its sectarian hostilities.

Calling terrorism a “disease which affected the Islamic world first before the international community as a whole,” Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday said the coalition of 34 Muslim states would fight the scourge in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

In this Sept. 17 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. ENLARGE
In this Sept. 17 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Besides the 34 Muslim nations, Riyadh said more than 10 other countries expressed their support for the new bloc. Absent from the list was predominantly Shiite Iran—the kingdom’s main rival for leadership in the Muslim world—as well as Israel and Shiite-led Iraq.

Still, it remains unclear what the Sunni kingdom is asking the other countries to do—whether it is a loose grouping to talk strategy and share intelligence or the first step to establishing a fighting force against the Sunni militant group.

The formation of the coalition followed criticism from U.S. and European politicians that Saudi Arabia hasn’t done enough to fight Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Islamic State militants took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria last year and are the focus of the U.S.-led air campaign in which Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries are participating.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said last week that Saudi Arabia should stop supporting extremist groups and urged the kingdom to play a bigger role in the region. “We need Saudi Arabia to solve the regional conflicts,” he said.

On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Saudi-led coalition against Islamic State appeared “aligned with something that we’ve been urging for quite some time, which is greater involvement in the campaign to combat ISIL by Sunni Arab countries,” using an acronym for Islamic State. “Obviously they have…a better ability than we will have to promote what we know is necessary in the long run for the defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”

The Saudi decision to form the alliance is a signal the kingdom sees a need to take matters of regional security into its own hands after being frustrated with how the Obama administration handled the crises in Syria and Iraq, as well as a sign of its concern over the increasing threat posed by militant groups in the region.

Christopher Davidson, a professor at Durham University in the U.K. who specializes in Gulf affairs, said the new bloc was primarily a way for Saudi Arabia to generate positive news about its role in international affairs following recent terror attacks in Paris and California. Both of the assailants in this month’s San Bernardino attack had spent time in the kingdom.

Yet divisions among the participating countries of the Islamic coalition don’t bode well for its effectiveness, he said. “The constituent members of the new coalition mostly fall on the Sunni side of the sectarian fault line and are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” Mr. Davidson said. “The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, views itself as a main target for Islamic State, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called the kingdom “head of the snake” in an audio recording released last year.

Since late last year, when militants opened fire outside a community hall for the Muslim Shiite minority in the eastern village of Dalwa, Saudi Arabia has been targeted in shooting and suicide attacks that have marked a sharp escalation in extremist violence. In July, the Saudi government said it had arrested 431 suspects connected to Islamic State and foiled several plots targeting mosques, a foreign diplomatic mission and homes of security officials.

Some Saudis believe the time has come to show the government is serious about fighting Islamic State, which has roots in Saudi Arabia’s own region and religion.

Islamic State “is the seed of evil that we have let out of the can in the Middle East,” Prince Turki Al Faisal, chairman of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, told the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai. “It’s our responsibility to vanquish it.”
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Yet not only was Iran excluded from the coalition but also Iraq, which is facing its own formidable struggle against Islamic State.

Iraqi officials warn that the Saudi coalition threatens to distract from efforts to coordinate the anti-Islamic State campaign.

“This makes it very confusing for us. Who will be the one leading the fight against terrorism in the region?” asked Nasser Nouri, spokesman for Iraq’s defense ministry. “Will it be the larger international coalition, and if so, what will be the point of having this new alliance.”

Iraq, a majority Shiite country, has long had a strained relationship with the Sunni kingdom to its south. There has been no Saudi embassy in Iraq since it was withdrawn when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, but Saudi officials have said they plan to reopen the embassy this week.

Many officials in Iran and their allies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Syria have repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia of being responsible for the creation of Islamic State to weaken the Tehran-led axis in the region. These people often point to what they say are similarities between the ultraconservative brand of Sunni Islam embraced by the Saudi kingdom and Islamic State’s ideology.

“We do not think Saudi Arabia is serious in combating terrorism when it is the one exporting suicide bombers,” Iraqi Shiite lawmaker Hakem al-Zameli told Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV on Tuesday in reaction to Riyadh’s announcement.

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, was quoted by Iran’s state media on Tuesday as saying Israel, Islamic State, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. were colluding to fight Shiites the same way they were fought more than 1,300 years ago by Sunni caliphs.

“The goal is to corrupt the true Islam preached by Prophet Muhammad and spread satanic ideas in Muslim states,” said Gen. Jafari in what Iranian state media reported was a letter he wrote to the family of one of his soldiers killed in Syria recently fighting on the side of the regime.

The new Saudi-led coalition will have a joint command center in Riyadh to coordinate and develop means to fight terrorism militarily and ideologically, Prince Mohammed told a news conference at a Riyadh air base early Tuesday.

Some countries that were listed as members expressed willingness to review such a proposal but didn’t appear to make any formal commitment to a military coalition.

Turkey, the only country in the alliance that is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, welcomed the new coalition. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday that “the best response to those striving to associate terrorism and Islam is for nations of Islam to present a unified voice against terrorism.”

Meanwhile, Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani said the war against terrorism was “our war and the Muslims’ war,” the official Petra news agency reported.

William Hague, a former U.K. foreign secretary, told the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai on Tuesday that more Arab involvement was needed to combat Islamic State and counter the extremist narrative that it was at war with the West. Making it effective required coordination, however, he said.

“To make something like NATO, you really have to decide to act together…to send people to fight and die in another country,” Mr. Hague said.

For Riyadh, the risks of such aggressive military action on a broad scale have become apparent in Yemen.

The Yemen coalition, composed of mostly Sunni Muslim Arab allies, began bombing the Houthis from the air on March 26. It deployed a ground force in July, soon recapturing the southern city of Aden and pushing toward the capital, San’a.

The campaign, however, has been costly for the Saudi government, both in financial and human terms. Human-rights groups have also criticized the coalition for the large number of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes and fighting on the ground. The United Nations estimates the death toll of the war at more than 5,800 people.

Many observers see the war in Yemen as the outgrowth of a regional confrontation between Sunni Muslim states and mainly Shiite Iran. Saudi Arabia and its allies support Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi while Iran gives political backing—some say military support—to the Houthis, a group whose members adhere to the Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam.

On Monday, Col. Abdullah al-Sahyan, head of Saudi special forces in Aden, was killed during fighting near Taiz, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

A seven-day cease-fire started in Yemen on Tuesday as United Nations-mediated peace talks began in Geneva. Fighting was still taking place in the country’s oil-rich Marib province and parts of the south in the hours leading up to the pause, local security officials said.

—Ben Kesling in Baghdad, Sam Dagher in Beirut, Gordon Lubold
at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Emre Peker in Istanbul
and Peter Wonacott in Dubai
contributed to this article.
 

delft

Brigadier
Unfortunate and inhumane as it is but the thought of killing civilians has prevented the US coalition from achieving its goals. As such ISIS has learned to hide within the civilian population as soon as Aircraft are spotted inbound.

By bombing regardless of killing civilians the message is clear. You can't hide anywhere. It may also make the civilians rebel against ISIS. Knowing that the bombs are coming because of them.

Some would argue that civilian deaths will actually lead to more civilians deciding to join ISIS for revenge against those that bombed their loved ones.

That is probably true to some degree. But ISIS lacks an air force, and their anti aircraft defenses are limited. So those that decide to join them will find it a very unsafe occupation.

ISIS is beginning to understand a few realities about their new Northern Enemy.

1) Russia has completely different rules of engagement then the countries who have been fighting ISIS.

2) Russia follows its own plan. They are hitting the targets they choose. Not targets approved by some international coalition.

3) Russia has a state run media. ISIS will find it much harder to run a propaganda campaign there. Swaying the Russian populations opinion of the war will be much more difficult then the US population. The Kremlin sees to that!

4) Russia answers to nobody. Not NATO nor the UN. They will do whatever they need to do to achieve their goals.

5) Russia could care less about their reputation. They are not concerned with their Human Rights record, nor any international popularity contest.

6) Unlike the US, Russia has boots on the ground in Syria. Both the Syrian Army and Iran, limited as they are, they still better than the 50 odd US special forces currently on the ground

7) Syria is no Afghanistan. The US is not going to give ISIS air defense capabilities just to stop Evil Russia. And Russia is not going to put significant boots on the ground into the middle of what has become a Muslim civil war.

8) The Syrian government is not going to collapse at this point. They are actually growing stronger. While ISIS is beginning to suffer from a loss of Oil revenue, supplies and recruits.
The "International Coalition" and NATO are both owned by US and do not in any way limit the actions of US. The actions against Daesh by US were ineffective because US hoped Daesh would help destroy the Syrian state. On the other hand all terrorists are enemies of Syria so for the Russians they should all be destroyed but the priority must be, as SampanViking explained, those that are sponsored by foreign governments.
 

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